Setting up Apple TVs in everyroom of a boutique hotel...questions

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by cctravis, Jun 11, 2012.

  1. cctravis macrumors newbie

    Jun 11, 2012
    I have a small boutique hotel and am considering installing apple tv in each of our 5 guest rooms.

    My main question is would each client need to have a itunes account? Could I load each apple TV with preloaded films? Netflix? would I need a separate account for each apple tv?

    I currently use a macmini myself by was thinking appletv might be better for each room
    I would really like to hear the opinions of those more familiar with apple tvs and what you think the best setup would be for a situation like mine.

  2. Gotanks0407 macrumors newbie

    Jun 11, 2012
    Well 1 netflix account can have up to 5 devices using it simultaneously. so you would need a seperate account for your guests. if you want to proload movies, your going to need a jailbreak to set up a media server. which means they are going to need to be AppleTV 2s unless you just plan on sharing all your iTunes content to them via home sharing. which then you need to make sure to setup a password so they cant get into settings if you can, but this might also lock them out of movies.
  3. cctravis thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 11, 2012
    These are the things I was not sure about. i have seen some major hotels using apple tvs in there rooms like the FountainBleau in Miami but I am not sure how they are configuring each one as to make it easy for a different person with a different itunes account to use everyday.

    So in order to preload apple tvs with movies they must be jail broken? If you jail break them does that limit any other features that they offer?

    If anyone has spent the night at a hotel with apple tv would love your help on how they configured them.
  4. blueroom, Jun 11, 2012
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2012

    blueroom macrumors 603


    Feb 15, 2009
    Toronto, Canada
    You could just leave a Mac Mini running iTunes and load it up with music & movies converted to H.264.

    Another solution might be a TV that has Netflix and DLNA player. A Synology NAS can be setup as a DLNA (UPNP) media server for music, movies & photos.

    Edit, using iTunes as it's all logged instantly just set each ATV with a separate iTunes account with a balance of say $50 and add the amount they used to their balance when they check out. Top up the account with iTunes cards (no credit card on file)
  5. cctravis thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 11, 2012
    Blueroom I really like the idea you have....I could not figure out how to do individual billing with apple tv and this way seems like it will work. the thing I have heard is sometimes it takes 3 or 4 days for a bought movie to show up on your bill but if you know exactly how much each TV has upon check in that should make it easy to control billing. I do not understand fully what you mean by top up the account with itunes cards no billing necessary. My hotel is located in a country where apple stores do not exist if that matters.

    If i loaded up a macmini with a bunch of movies could I easily link each apple TV in each room to it as a server and allow guests to watch any movie they want that is on the macmini server? Would I be able to do this in a way with apple TV that even a non tech savy guest could use it with just a remote?
  6. anthony11 macrumors 6502

    May 18, 2007
    Seattle, WA
    If you could actually get DLNA to work, and if you want to spend your waking hours converting video and importing it into iTunes.
    Probably. Or you could get a lot more functionality by using a Boxee Box instead. But really, who uses media players of any sort in a hotel room? Who even uses a TV?
  7. MikeVarney macrumors member

    Jun 17, 2009
    Gee, wouldn't you be violating your license for home viewing only? How are you licensing the movies for use in your hotel? And how would you bill for usage?
  8. cctravis thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 11, 2012
    How does the FountainBleu miami or any of the other 50+ hotels I found online that offer AppleTv do it?
  9. cctravis thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 11, 2012
    Spent last hour being transferred from apple care, to apple tv to apple small business and all of them seem completely lost at my questions on integrating apple tv into my rooms.
  10. bbeagle macrumors 68040


    Oct 19, 2010
    Buffalo, NY
    Not at all. The Apple TV does not need to be jail broken to get movies from a server with iTunes. This is one of it's main functions!

    Any movies you put into your MacMini's iTunes server (either by buying them or copying the DVDs) will be playable on ALL Apple TVs with no restrictions.

    Licensing and legality are a different issue.
  11. Panch0 macrumors 6502a

    Feb 23, 2010
    Well, they might just be there to allow the guest to stream content from their iPhone/iPad/iPod to the TV using AirPlay.

    They might also go in and reset the device after each guest checks out, so that each new guest can enter their own iTunes/NetFlix account info.

    Just having an AppleTV in the room doesn't mean they are providing any content to it. You might do better to ask the 50 hotels that you found offering the device what they are doing.
  12. steve-p macrumors 68000


    Oct 14, 2008
    Newbury, UK
    Why not phone them and ask? Unless you are a direct competitor they may help.
  13. cctravis thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 11, 2012
    From what I can tell from talking to apple this is my best option

    Also thinking about getting iphones for each room to so clients can have a local phone to use as well as a control for the apple tv if they do not travel with their own apple device.

    Do you see any problems if I use iphone 3g or 3gs or is there a advantage on spending more and going with the 4?

    I believe the other hotels are not providing content as you said they are just allowing users to connect to their already purchased content on itunes on there laptop or on there ipad or iphone.
  14. Panch0 macrumors 6502a

    Feb 23, 2010
    Wow, this must be a really premium hotel to provide a loaner iPhone! It seems to me like this would be cumbersome though. What if the guest before me gave out the number and now I am getting a bunch of calls for them? Unless you go unlocked and maybe sell Pay As You Go SIMs at the front desk so everyone gets a fresh number, this seems like more trouble than it's worth. You would again probably have to deal with wiping the device between guests.

    Apple TV works just fine with the remote control that comes with it. You don't HAVE to use an iDevice as the remote, it's just cool if you happen to have both.

    iPhone 3G is not going to get the iOS6 update, but the 3GS is. That probably means that 3GS is not going to get iOS7 next year. That's the only issue with the older models. If you really wanted to do an iDevice as a remote, the iPod touch would also work for that purpose.
  15. cctravis thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 11, 2012
    We are one of the nicest boutique hotel / bed and breakfasts in our region.

    All phones here work on prepaid chips where people buy minutes on scratchoff cards at any shop throughout the country. It is very expensive for people roaming here and complicated for them to stay in touch with taxis and what not without a local number. We will provide them a phone either way but we figured the iphone 3gs could be a ll in one device for both the Apple TV as well as their phone. We could also have preprogrammed into each the reliable taxi and emergency numbers for each guest as well as unlimited data on each phone.

    BACK TO APPLETV questions. Without a Idevice though what use is AppleTv? If you do not have a computer, iphone, ipad or ipod touch the apple tv becomes useless because you have nothing to synch it with correct?

    Thanks so much for your inputs this thought process has really helped us start planning our room entertainment setups much better.
  16. Panch0 macrumors 6502a

    Feb 23, 2010
    I'm only familiar with how it works in the US. May be completely different in your location.

    With just an internet connection I can:
    1) connect to my Netfilx account and stream content
    2) connect to my iTunes account to:
    a) rent movies
    b) buy movies
    c) buy tv episodes
    d) watch tv episodes I have already purchased on iTunes
    e) watch some of the movies I have already purchased (depends on studio)
    f) play my music library using iTunes Match
    g) watch/listen to podcasts
    3) You Tube
    4) Internet Radio
    5) sign into several sports networks if I have a paid account

    Again, what is available in your region might be different, but the AppleTV doesn't HAVE to have local media - it is quite capable of getting its own.

    Oh, and the Atv2 and 3 don't actually sync to anything - everything is streamed, but that's a technicality.

    Even if you provide an iPhone, you are still getting into that question of how you provide the actual content and how you deal with licensing issues. If you don't wipe the device every time, you may be getting into a privacy issue.

    I suspect that you'll have many guests that do show up with their own iDevice loaded with content and for them the AppleTV will be a really nice extra. It's not completely lost for guests who don't have their own device & content with them though.

    Best of luck!
  17. Panch0 macrumors 6502a

    Feb 23, 2010
    Oh, forgot to mention...

    If all of the AppleTvs are on the same network, you can airplay to any of them. So if I'm in Room 1 with my iPhone, I can make stuff play on Room 5's TV! Well, assuming it's turned on and the AppleTV is the selected input, but hopefully you see my point.

    Really cool in a home. Potentially creepy in a shared space! It wouldn't be that hard to create isolated networks, but you should consider it. Airport Express might fit into that...

    I'm not trying to poke holes in your idea - I kind of like it in fact.
  18. Nychot macrumors 6502a

    Aug 15, 2011
    call the fountainbleau and ask them
  19. cctravis, Jun 12, 2012
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2012

    cctravis thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 11, 2012
    I went out and bought 1 apple TV today and installed it in our nicest room. It was way above all my expectations. This quote above though has me a little freaked and confused.

    I just read up all over the internet about this issue and see a few solutions but need to ask you all for help again.

    I see that I can set a password for each AppleTV this should prevent people from streaming to other AppleTvs? Is this a true solution?

    How could I setup my network with airport express to prevent this problem? If all my apple tvs are connecting on the same main network which they would be?

  20. monty77 macrumors 6502a

    Mar 4, 2005
    UK, South Coast
    Both AppleTV and Airport Express can have a password associated so that would solve that issue.

    The bigger issue as I see it is reliability. I have a fairly simple setup at home:

    - Airport Extreme Base Station with HDDs attached (this is where iTunes media lives)
    - Mac Mini running iTunes pulling media from the above
    - 1 Apple TV2, 1 Apple TV 3

    Both ATVs are connected via gigabit ethernet. As is the Mac Mini to the base station. Should be reliable then right? Not so. Fairly frequently I get errors saying that it's unable to play a movie, or no media is found. Both of which require a restart and or enable/disable of home sharing. Sometimes the library vanishes completely and iTunes itself has to be restarted.

    When they work they are the best things but once unreliable you find it hard to trust them again - this drives my wife (and me consequently) wild. In a hotel with paying customers that you have to support 24/7 I wouldn't fancy this much. Imagine if it throws a fit for one customer and you have to restart iTunes - at the same point you're going to annoy the other 4 people watching movies just fine.

    I'm happy to hear reasons as to why mine might not be reliable by the way, perhaps it is just me? :) The traffic on the Apple discussions forums suggests otherwise.


  21. bammac macrumors member

    May 20, 2005
    Home Sharing is set on the machine with the iTunes library... but with the AppleTV 2&3 it becomes a little redundant as you can stream from the iTunes store directly instead of needing a machine with iTunes installed. Maybe open multiple iTunes libraries for each room on the host machine?

    With the model you mentioned (i.e. customers purchase iTunes credit), then I assume you would not be providing your own content and therefore not be providing access to your own iTunes library. In that case you only need to provide an internet connection to the AppleTV device(s)... bypassing the need for home sharing based on content delivery.

    The rub will come if you want to use the iOS Remote app as mentioned as this would require a Home Sharing connection so it can see the AppleTV.

    Also customers will also be able to view PREVIOUS purchased content on the iTunes account for that room, this may also pose a privacy issue. Setting up a new account after each stay would probably be a PITA.

    Jailbreaking is probably going to give you more control over how the device conforms to your requirements.
  22. cctravis thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 11, 2012
    Thank you all for your responses.

    As of now after I bought a AppleTV test unit today I have axed the idea of providing any content at all and the need for any other iDevice in room.

    I really like the way apple TV works with remote it comes with, the only pain is entering letters and since most clients will have a iDevice they can then download the remote app and easily use their own. I aLSO LOVE the content you have without even using itunes such as the radio stations, youtube, netflix etc. No need to load any content anywhere with these options standard.

    All that being said I was pretty much set to go buy 4 more AppleTVs tomorrow for my other rooms till the 2 topics above came up.

    1. Unreliability of AppleTV. My few hour test on the AppleTV I bought today was great but I realize that was not enough to really tell me anything about reliability. Do you really think the device is not reliable enough to install in my rooms? Trying to make things more comfortable for my customers and get better reviews for my hotel not worse.

    2. The people randomly accessing other rooms AppleTvs through airplay. (think this is a non issue if I set passwords on each apple TV)

    Thanks again as I have a world of knowledge I did not have yesterday.
  23. Mr-Kerrse macrumors 6502

    Apr 1, 2011
    United Kingdom
    I have no reliability issue with my 2 x atv2's the only issue i get occasionally is with netflix but even that seems to have improved recently.
  24. Panch0 macrumors 6502a

    Feb 23, 2010
    I also have occasional issues that require a restart, but they are not frequent at all. Mine usually come up with Netflix deciding that it can't find any content, but I think that comes down to a blip in my network. Rebooting the ATV has fixed it in every case except the time that my ISP was actually down for an hour.

    Rebooting the ATV is very easy - just hold down both the Menu and Down buttons for ~7 seconds. It reboots pretty quickly.

    Quality and speed of your internet connection and internal networks are more likely to effect reliability than the device itself. A wired internal network is more reliable than wireless, even though wireless N is more than fast enough to stream content.

    I wasn't aware of the password feature for Airplay, that sounds like it will fit your needs.

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